Yes, it’s the same photo of a traffic jam. This is giving you a taste of the frustrations of living in Bangalore – looking at the same old traffic jams every day. But we are on the last leg of this story. Here are clues 8 to 10 that the photo was taken in India.
Clue No. 8. There is a palm tree in the background, and the men on the motorbikes are dressed for warm weather, but the sky is grey. Just a typical July day in Bangalore. By 4pm that day we had rain showers; by 8pm we had thunder.
Clue No. 9. Staying with the guys on the motorbikes, they are dressed for different kind of jobs.
The man in the shirt with vertical stripes looks like he’s riding his own bike to an office job – maybe carrying a laptop in his shoulder bag on his way to his career in the new Bangalore of software companies and call centres.
The man in the white shirt and shorts looks like he’s on his way to a manual job – which might be connected to the IT sector as well, because so many offices are under construction. His footwear is definitely Indian. I hear various names for open shoes – slippers, sandals and chappals – and I think these ones are chappals, because they are not secured at the ankle.
And finally, Clue No. 10. There are two advertisements about gold. The poster of a woman is advertising gold for sale at the Malabar shop in our newest shopping mall – Phoenix Market City.
Jewellery shops thrive here. Indian families are really keen on investing in gold.
The Malabar store advertised isn’t even the only jewellery shop in the Phoenix mall – there is also Tanishq.
But when you buy gold this year, what do you do when you are short of cash next year? You could sell your gold jewellery, but you may be reluctant to part with it.
So instead you go to the bank asking to borrow money on the security of the gold. In an ironic juxtaposition in the traffic jam, the ad on the back of the auto-rickshaw is offering “jewel loans – convert idle gold into active cash”.
I spoke to one man who has borrowed money like this. He was happy with the arrangement because the bank lent the money quickly, at a reduced interest rate, when he offered gold as security. The gold, which he originally received as a wedding gift, is stored in the bank until he repays the loan. If he can’t keep up the repayments, the bank may eventually auction off his gold, but he is intending to repay the whole loan and reclaim the gold.
According to the KV Bank website, the bank will only be interested if you have jewellery of a minimum purity of 22 carats, or gold ingots. As a foreigner who hasn’t been stockpiling ingots, and who received kitchenware as wedding presents, I don’t have much to offer them.
Enough of that photo of the traffic jam. I promise that next week’s post will be vehicle-free!